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Moab in winter?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Well, this thread is not exactly about ski, but it's about travel...

Me and my girlfriend are going to Colorado for the first time after Xmas, we got the Epicpass and already booked 6 nights in Breck and 6 in Vail.
But we are also considering other destinations in our journey.
Utah is one of then, and we thought Moab could be a beautiful and diferent place to visit as a 3/4 day ski break.

Is it worth doing this trip during the winter?
Will we be able to hike and mountain bike?
What are best activities for this time of the year?
How expensive is it to rent bikes and a guides over there?

Thanks!
post #2 of 13
The area around Moab can be amazingly beautiful in winter, but I wouldn't count on finding ideal conditions for mountain biking. I suspect that average high temperatures in December and January would be in the 30's and maybe 40's. I suppose that hearty souls could hit the trail, but I'm not sure which, if any, bike shops rent during winter.

However, hiking is definitely a possibility. Arches and Canyonlands National Parks are open year round, and when the redrock is dusted with snow, the view is otherworldly. There is also x-country or backcountry skiing in the La Sal mountains. You might even find snowmobile guides but I have no knowledge in this area. Even if you were to just take a couple of days and drive through the parks and do some short hikes, it would be a nice contrast to Vail.
post #3 of 13
The weather varies greatly, but it can get into the high 40s or low 50s during the day in the winter for a few hours in the afternoon. The night/day tempurature swing can be 40 degrees or more, so the mornings are usually freezing.

I have skied in the Las Sals and the drive up access is good, but the snow conditions are extremely variable. I would recommend sticking to the hiking and biking.

Bike rental is around $40/day, and you do not need a guide. Most of the trails are well used (although you will have them to yourself that time of year) and signed, and they have very good maps. The Slick Rock and Amasaback trails both get good winter sun, but there are many others. If you go biking make sure to ask the rental shop for rides where you will not encounter ATVs, which unfortunatley are taking over many of the bike trails.

I would suggest driving into Arches National Park and doing some of the many out and back hikes. Another good hike is up the Portal Trail and along the rim above the river. Incredible views, but the trailhead is a little obscure because it is only ridden down by the bikers.

I would say Moab would be a good winter stop for 2 days, or 3 days max.
post #4 of 13
Beats the heck out of July and August when the place is mobbed and hotter than hell.

We last went there after the SLC Olympics. Warm sunny hikes were just the ticket after standing in the snow for days.

Some of the biking is easier if you can hit it when the ground is frozen.
post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
I found some nice mountain bike tours in the web, but looks like most of them stop operating in dec/jan and return the tours only by late february.

We are not looking for hardcore downhill, just some light/intermediate x-country as it would be a very nice way to sightseeing the region.

Once the trails are well signed, maybe we could try some light stuff by ourselves, but we definitely don't want deserve an episode in the Discovery Channel "Survivers"

Thanks again
post #6 of 13
Get a guidebook and a map and head out! Many of the trails are jeep roads and pretty tough to get lost on. A $99 gps and a decent memory would guaranty that you could at least follow your tracks back. You simply do not need a guide to have fun there.
post #7 of 13


The snow on sandstone is worth seeing as are limitless hiking and touring options in the area. Including the Burr Trail from Lake Powel to Boulder City and then tom Escalante. If you have 3 or 4 days, tooling around to get an over view wouldn't be disappointinga as long as you can roll with the weather variables.



post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 
beautiful pictures Alpinord!

Did you take the 3 pictures during the winter?

I guess renting a car is essential over ther...
post #9 of 13
Wish I could take claim to the top two so not sure about dates. They were taken by Rick LeGrand and group leader of several 'excursions' with the boys to Escalante and beyond. The slot picture was a round Thanksgiving two years ago. A short day hike near Escalante.

The whole area of south eastern Utah is mind boggling. Moab is just a small part of the area. Southern Canyonlands is a good and convenient option from Moab to check out. Chesler Park and the Joint trail are nice long hikes. As are several on the Cedar Mesa between Blanding and Lake Powel.

Here's one very good site for Canyoneering info and an area map (Tom's Utah Canyoneering).

post #10 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thiago View Post
We are not looking for hardcore downhill, just some light/intermediate x-country as it would be a very nice way to sightseeing the region.

Once the trails are well signed, maybe we could try some light stuff by ourselves, but we definitely don't want deserve an episode in the Discovery Channel "Survivers"

Thanks again
A couple of easier rides that I've enjoyed:

Hurrah Pass. Easy riding on gravel/dirt road. Could be done starting from Moab. Gives a nice look at the the variety of sandstone found on the Colrado Plateau. Nice view from the pass. Out and back. Easy route to find and follow.
http://www.utahmountainbiking.com/trails/hurrah.htm

Monitor-Merrimac/Courthouse Pasture. An easy (but sandy) out and back to Monitor and Merrimac Buttes. Once there, circle the buttes for some very nice slickrock riding, as easy or technical as you want. Will require transporting bikes to start. You might want a map to get you to the trail head.

Good luck with your planning.
post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 
Looks like one could be entertained for months over there...

We may consider staying at least 3 full days in the region, renting a car and bikes... getting some maps...
the majority of the trails/hikes are one day trips from the town of Moab, right?
post #12 of 13
"Looks like one could be entertained for months over there..."

Indeed. And as Alpinord mentioned, the Moab region is only the very small tip of a very large iceberg. I would devote at least one day for hikes in Arches National Park. The Windows area, a hike to Delicate Arch, Devil's Garden . . .

"We may consider staying at least 3 full days in the region, renting a car and bikes... getting some maps...
the majority of the trails/hikes are one day trips from the town of Moab, right?"

Yes. In fact, the two rides I mentioned can be ridden in a half-day if you want to take in some other activities. A couple of other rides:

Klondike Bluffs which takes you to the border of Arches. From there, you can hike around the sandstone and do some exploring of your own.

Willow Flats road is the old entrance to Arches and will take you into the park (bring entrance fee or pass in case a ranger finds you). Easy ride on gravel/dirt road with nice views. Ends up in the Windows/Balanced Rock area of the park.
post #13 of 13
Just got back from a weekend trip to Moab. We had a great time hiking in arches one day and biking another day on some very uncrowded trails. Recoomend Klondike Bluffs as a good intro to Moab ride. As far as when to visit... I would say when SLC is under big high pressure and inverted would be a great time to go to Moab.

Just don't get caught out on slick rock in flat light. It can be very hard for route finding becuase the trail markers are painted on the rock and can be hard to see in flat light. A trail that takes half a day in summer is about a full day in winter, less day to work with.
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